Despite reassuring statements from David Davis,Britain's newly- appointed Secretary of State for Exiting the EU, that existing employment law would not be radically changed once the UK leaves the EU,it would be wise for UK organisations to take protective measures against likely amendments to some workplace laws once the Brexit process is complete.
Many of the employment law protections which came from EU law are firmly embedded in the UK's legal and ideological framework - such as protection against unlawful discrimination , but there are areas of potential change which businesses would be sensible to address now.
Here are some possible sectors to consider:
Immigration : Free Movement
Following the vote , the EU said the UK must continue to allow the free movement of EU workers if it wanted to trade with member states after its withdrawal.UK politicians have suggested that a points - based system could be used to govern EU migrants coming to the UK in the future
The Government however has recently stated that it expects the legal status of EU nationals here,and UK nationals in member states,to be "properly protected" as a result of negotiations to leave the EU and that, until the UK's exit,there will be no change to the existing operation of the EU's free movement rules.
These rules do not require EU nationals to register for any documentation , and the statement confirms that EU nationals automatically have permanent residence rights after five years in the UK and have the option of applying for British citizenship after six years.
Transfer of Undertakings (TUPE)
The UK's transfer regulations exceed the requirements of the EU directive by including "service provision changes".The block on harmonising terms and conditions following the Tupe transfer (which originates in EU case law) may come under scrutiny.For instance, organisations entering into contracts for services need to be aware that it is possible,albeit quite unlikely,that the TUPE regulations will no longer apply when the contract eventually terminates.
The EU General Data Protection Regulations 2016 have to be implemented in the UK by May 2018. Even if withdrawal is complete by that time,the UK will still need to comply with cross-border data protection laws if it wants to keep its EU trading partners.
Equality: compensation cap
We may see a cap on discrimination compensation but many equality laws ( for example those on sex,race and disability,and on equal pay) predate the UK joining the EU and are unlikely to be repealed.
Holidays / working time
The UK's statutory paid holidays (5.6 weeks) go beyond the EU minimum (20 days) and are unlikely to be repealed,but the Government may wish to amend the rules on calculating holiday pay and on opting out of the 48 - hour week.We could see a rash of holiday pay claims,supported by the UK trade unions,in an attempt to have those claims heard before any change in the Working Time Regulations by the UK Government.
Unfair targeting of employees
It is important that employers make it clear to their European workforces that targeting UK or EU nationals because of Brexit cannot be tolerated. Employers should consider sending out very clear communications to employees on this matter and,if necessary,should ask employee and union representatives to assist in drawing these up.
Impact of cost of living changes.
There is likely to be a request from organisations for their senior staff to be insulated against any decrease in the value of the pound,or any increase in the UK cost of living. European companies may also need to react to any slowdown in the UK economy,and possibly across Europe,and to familiarise themselves with the changes that could occur in UK employment law after the Brexit break.